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Vagobond in Salt Lake City

1/5/2009
SLC to Chicago via Denver

I can’t believe I almost missed out on an incredible time by considering getting a hotel room in Salt Lake City. My initial experience with SLC was not really that great since I wanted a coffee shop and couldn’t find one for a while. That can be frustrating. In any event, I got a hold of Candice, who I met through couch surfing and she gave me directions to her place. I set out from the lone starbucks I found in downtown and then proceeded towards her place. It was something like 20 blocks, but I figured I would walk since I had been eating so much and not going outside too much at my brother’s place.

I was heading for the 1700 block but the road dead ended at the 1300 block which put me at the University of Utah. From there I tried to walk around the University but it seemed that I ended up on a parkway of some sort and I was heading out of town in the snow and it was starting to get cold. I usually don’t like to turn around, but this time, I backtracked a mile or so and then gave Candice a call to find out which taxi company I should call for a lift.

Instead, Candice and her friends (now my friends too) Jessica, Mike, and Cameron came and picked me up and we all went bowling. Seriously, straight from the road to the bowling alley. I’m a totally crap bowler, but I always enjoy throwing my balls in the gutter. When they picked me up, I think I had to pick my jaw up off the floor. Candice and Jessica are both movie star beautiful and they picked me up in Jessie’s borrowed Lexus SUV.

We all had a blast. Jessica had lived in Hawaii for a while and while we didn’t know the same people, we definitely knew some of the same places. Cameron and I had both lived in Raleigh, North Carolina and Mike has traveled by train all over the U.S. Not to mention we’ve all done a fair bit of travel, so there was plenty to talk about and lots to laugh about too.

After bowling we went back to Candice’s place and met a couple more couch surfers, Meredith and Kevin. Kevin and I are doing a similar kind of train trip across the USA, though his is 45 days long compared to my 15 and I am heading out to Europe in a few days if all goes well. Kevin is from Seattle and plays the hand saw. He and Meredith did a nice duet for us.

Next we all piled into the Lexus and then picked up Steven, a couch surf host down the street. We all went to the Tavernacle, Salt Lake City’s oldest dueling piano bar where we met up with Angela and Nareen ( I think). The piano bar was almost like karaoke, just as fun, but different. The people watching was incredible. The most outrageous and out of hand guys there were five guys that weren’t drinking! Mormons I would guess.

We closed the place down and then went to Steven’s where we chilled out in his green house for a bit before heading to Candice and Cameron’s where he made us all eggs and grits. At 3:15 Angela and I hopped in a cab and we dropped her off at home before I headed to the Amtrak station. I stopped and got some snacks at 7-11 and made it to the station in time to catch the first on-time Amtrak train of this trip so far.

As you might surmise, I was a bit tired and went to sleep pretty quickly at around 4:20 or so. Around 6 am, the guys in the dining car and the snack bar started making annoying announcements about breakfast, coffee, and their breaks. Sleep interrupted repeatedly. The guys names are Johnny and Mr. Curly and while they were funny, I didn’t really want to hear them and since we were going through the mountains, I didn’t want to put in the earplugs.

So there I was, tired, realizing I hadn’t prepared at all for Chicago by contacting my couchsurfing hosts and that I probably wouldn’t get the chance. I felt not too excited about much and that is when Agent 303 showed up. Cordelia was sitting not too far behind me for most of the trip but I didn’t talk to her until after I went to Johnny’s snack shop and I got sort of chewed out for not wearing any shoes. Johnny went so far as to have the conductor make an announcement to the entire train that shoes are required when walking around.

Anyway, it was an ice breaker and after that we sat near each other and wrapped about wine, school, and the agents of TOIL. Toddlers of Indeterminate Longevity. This name for the evil doers as we had three mini-mes running around the train and pretending to shoot us all. Agent 303 is a freshman at University of Denver and was kind enough to keep me company until we got to Denver. At that point, I went to sleep and it wasn’t until just a few hours ago that I realized there were actually plugs in the car ahead of me, still no wifi though. I did get connected in a small town for long enough to email my hosts asking them to call me, we will see if this works or not. It might end up being a hotel night tonight..

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Vago Damitio

Damitio  (@vagodamitio) is the Editor-in-Chief for Vagobond. Life is good. You can also find him on Google+ and at Facebook

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